In ancient Rome, women possessed minimal freedoms in marriage and everyday life. In contrast, Egypt varied from that social structure as the women in Ancient Egypt played a more significant role in society when compared with the women of Ancient Rome. Ancient Egyptian women had a higher level of independence and a greater number of social, economic and political freedoms. The process and rights of women when it came to marriage varied greatly between the women of Ancient Rome and those of Egypt, with Egyptian women having more say in the matter. Marriages in Ancient Rome were a business venture, in a sense. Marriages in Rome were often for money or a more prominent position in society. A woman’s marriage was arranged by her father and her consent was unnecessary.# Roman girls were normally married around the age of fourteen, but it was possible she could be engaged as young as the age of the seven.# Roman women could contest but even if she did her father’s vote overruled hers. In the home, Roman women ruled but had no more rights than their daughters in society. Relationships in ancient Egypt were normally affectionate and faithful on both parts, male and female, whereas in Rome the husband could have affairs and the woman could not.
Marriages in Egypt were equal partnerships with the husband allowing his wife to rule in the home, # and marriages in Egypt were seen as a sacred union between a man and a woman. The husband treated the kitchen as his wife’s domain and could not complain about the cleanliness of anything within the home. Since, the Egyptians saw marriage as a sacred union and saw women as the point of happiness women were given the utmost respect. They were given free reign over the household and the husband had minimal say in what went in the home. Marriages were seen as an equal partnership with no one having total control unlike in Rome where the wife was subjugated and had no say in her own life. Women were married around the same age in both societies but in Egypt women could contest the marriage and were not forced into it. The process of divorce in Egypt and Rome had few similarities in how unofficial they were but differed in how women were treated.
In 331 CE, Constantine issued an edict that created serious penalties for people who divorce except in extreme circumstances. For a Roman woman to divorce her husband, a woman had to prove he was a murderer “,preparer of poison”, or a grave robber. If she couldn’t she would lose her entire dowry and be exiled to an island.# When a couple divorced in Rome the children almost always went to the father, although rarely, the father awarded the children to the mother. Either way, the father was financially responsible for the children.# Grounds for divorce between Egyptian men and women were childlessness or adultery.# Either way, the father was financially responsible for the children.# In Egypt, divorced women were entitled to take whatever personal items she brought into the marriage, as he husband and wife’s property were never combined.# It is unsaid where the Egyptian children went in times of divorce. An Egyptian woman, like an Egyptian man, could divorce her husband for adultery, whereas a woman in Rome could not. A woman in Rome had to prove that her husband was villainous by definition of the court before she could be granted a divorce.
If she could not prove the needed proof she was exiled with nothing and her family’s reputation was ruined. In cases of divorce in Rome, the children were awarded to the father and he could decide if his former wife could visit the children. If he declined her proposition to see their children his former wife was never able to see her children again. There are no concrete facts about to which parent the children were awarded in Egypt, but it is said by researchers that women raised the children until they were school age so if the couple divorced while there children were infants it is assumed, by historians, the children went to the wife. In both societies, if the children were with the mother the father was financially responsible for the welfare of his children. It was also said that in cases of divorce the husband was responsible for the welfare of his ex-wife until she remarried unless she went back under the rule of her father, which happened in most situations. When compared to Roman women Egyptian women had a more equal role with men in society. Roman society was ruled by paterfamilias. The woman’s father was her master as a child and her husband was her master once she married.
Paterfamilias was families with the father being the head of the household where everyone in the home was under his rule and had to obey him. It was the main structure throughout Roman history. At no time in Roman history were women allowed to work in government. Women at one point weren’t even allowed to make suggestions.# In law, a Roman woman’s status was not vastly different from that of her and her husband’s daughter.# In Rome, a woman was expected to be completely faithful, reserved in behavior, and utterly subservient.# The
women of Egypt were seen as equal to the men of society. Land wasn’t allowed to pass from father to daughter because women weren’t allowed to own land or other property. They were supposed to be totally dependent upon the men in their life. Roman women were slaves in their own home in the aspect that they had no power and they had to do whatever their husband or father assigned. They could not contest what was said to do under any circumstances. Women in Rome had no property, no land, no rights, and no inheritance. Egyptian women had almost all the rights that women have today except, hundreds of years ago. Egyptian women were seen as equal with men before the law and were entitled to attend court as a plaintiff, defendant, or witness.# Egyptian women could own or rent their own property so they didn’t have to be financially dependent on their husbands.
In Egypt, women were allowed to govern as pharaoh, in rare cases, and land was passed from mother to daughter.# Egyptian women were allowed to own property, borrow money, sign contracts, initiate divorce, appear in court, and they were also equally subject to the responsibilities that came with those rights.# Women in Egypt were also able to be employed in the workshops of dignitaries or in temples as weavers, washerwomen, bakers, or millers. Some became professional singers, dancers, musicians, or beauticians; some used to tie bouquets and wreaths as weavers. # An Egyptian woman was entitled to a third of her husband’s estate when he died but the rest of their property was divided among their children.# Women in Egypt had the choice to go out and work or to be a homemaker. Egyptian women could leave property to their children which were uncommon in the time period. Also, law in Egypt made sure that women and men stayed level by making it just as difficult for a man to leave his wife as it was for a wife to leave her husband. One common theme throughout Egypt was that women had options which weren’t something women in Rome had.
They had the right to work, to vote, to hold government positions and other various rights that was forbidden to women in Rome. Egypt treated its women better than any of the other major civilizations of the ancient world. The Egyptians believed that joy and happiness were legitimate goals of life and regarded home and family as the major source of delight.# Men in Rome saw women as home and family makers. There only purpose was to have children and keep the home presentable. As mentioned before marriage was normally a business venture in Rome whereas most marriages in Egypt were love matches. Early Roman women, like other women of those olden times, were veritable slaves. In Rome the males were the autocrats of the state and of the family. The father was the Roman woman’s master as a girl, the husband her master as a wife. The father could kill deformed children; he could punish his offspring as he pleased, sell them into slavery, and in some cases even order their death.# The wives had no say if the husband decided to kill her children or sell them. If she talked back her husband got to punish her as he saw fit. Women weren’t usually allowed to voice their opinions in public or at home. In some cases, women were allowed to voice their opinions in private but those cases are rare.
Women weren’t given rights because of their unsteadiness of character.# Or at least that was the common reason given to why Roman women had no rights and were subjugated all their lives. Women in Egypt could dispute her husband’s decision to sell or kill her children. Women in Egypt also had the right to speak her mind and voice her opinion in public and private. Normally, a man looked to his wife as an advisor and actually to her advice in his decision making process. Women, though rarely, were advisors to the pharaoh. Women in Egypt were seen as the bright spot of society and the cause of happiness. It was often said that an Egyptian man wasn’t happy if his wife wasn’t happy. In Egypt, a man could beat his wife but she could take it before the courts# whereas a woman in Rome had to just deal with it. Societal rules didn’t approve of people airing their dirty laundry in public. One similarity that is assumed is that in both civilizations women weren’t educated. Historians know for a fact that women in Rome weren’t educated and they speculate based of the lack of evidence to contradict it that women in Egypt weren’t educated either.
While the boys went to school the girls were home learning how to take care of the household or being prepared for marriage. In Egypt, we know that women were taught to read based on the fact there were letters written to them, some so personal it is assumed it wasn’t read to them. But we don’t definitely know if they were taught to write because there is nothing to definitely tie them to anything written. Egyptian society allowed women to have a freer lifestyle. They could work, own land, and vote whereas the women in Rome had no privileges. Roman women were to be completely subservient and had little to no say on what happened in their lives. Egyptian women had almost all of the rights we have today thousands of years later while the Roman women didn’t have the most basic of rights. Egyptian men valued their women. Roman men oppressed Roman women because they felt that women were the lesser gender and that women weren’t stable and therefore couldn’t take care of themselves, whereas the women in Egypt were seen as being strong and able to take of themselves as well as others. Egyptians were seen as equal to men and Roman women had the same privileges as their husband’s daughter. Women in Egypt were given the greatest amount of respect and power in society, politics, and personal life that the Roman women weren’t given.